Thank you Editor Polly Leonard for featuring my recent Saatchi Art Showdown Art prize in her newest KNIT issue. Polly was one of the first people to encourage me to make art out of tailoring patterns and supported my first book Dead Man’s Patterns (2008). Thank you Polly, thank you Selvedge. To purchase the Knit issue visit here.
New work added to my Le Petit Echo de la Mode series. I’m utilising more colour, which is quite exciting!
About the series:
My latest work mines a seam of precious material hidden between the pages of Le Petit Echo de la Mode. Published in Paris between 1897 and 1983 Le Petit Echo de la Mode was a popular domestic fashion and lifestyle magazine. Within it, loose and often discarded, I pluck a streak of radical abstraction. The magazine contains tailoring patterns that, for efficiency’s sake, layer the life-sized templates of entire garments onto a single sheet of paper. Each facet of the garment is encoded in an intricate web of lines, dots and numbers, and challenges us to view this sheet not as a means to an end but as an end in itself. Shattering the female form into precise overlapping facets flattened not as views of a subject but as the object itself. I make the radical potential loose in Le Petit Echo de la Mode real by cutting delicate sheets of coloured paper with the pride of a mother. The sheet of paper instructs the housewife, and the artist, to make itself. Predating Futurism and prefiguring Cubism these Le Petit Echo de la Mode abstracted the female subject to a degree more radical and precise than the highest aspirations of the 1912 manifetso Du “Cubisme”.
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I was really excited when Luxure magazine asked me to pose and be interviewed for their Tailored issue. The magazine is a celebration of exquisite craftsmanship, heritage and the culture of luxury.
“THE BRILLIANCE OF BESPOKE
This Tailored issue celebrates all that is wonderful about attention to detail, looking at the real meaning and understanding of what bespoke is. Whether it is in fashion, travel, hotels or interior design, it is the details that make the difference. Understanding the importance of craftsmanship and its relationship with what matters to us most, underpins this issue.”
Those very words make me feel really privileged. Thanks to the dapper Mr. Reggie Ansah Editor-In-Chief and fashion editor Shivani Lal for featuring my work. A special mention to photographer Alexis Chabala who took my portraits, and also Emily Brooks who wrote the piece. Thank you Luxure.
Really pleased to showcase ‘Hungarian Peacocks’, an artist book created on an original 1920s tailoring manual. The patterns begin to look like mosaic collages utilising an array of coloured paper, tissue and acetate. The work proposes that patterns are beautiful drawings in their own right.
Photos: Denis Laner
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Really excited to win Saatchi Art’s Showdown prize for ‘The Body Electric’. Judge Raffi Kalenderian has chosen Le Petit Echo de la Mode No.5 as the winner of The Body Electric Showdown and Maarten Van Den Bos as the runner-up. Praising the high standard of entries, Raffi said: “I loved the colors and composition of Hormazd Narielwalla’s piece. The scale of the work also seemed perfect. When I read about his process of making collages and finding radical abstraction within antique tailoring patterns, sourced from a Parisian fashion magazine, I thought: “This is an artist after my own heart.” Maarten Van Den Bos’ work struck me as wonderfully beguiling. The scale for this work seemed important, too. I wish I could see it in person. The line between figuration and abstraction is handled in a superior way. There is a psychic energy between the figures, and I dig it.”
Thank you so much Saatchi Art.
I am so pleased to share that my work has been shortlisted for a Saatchi Art Showdown prize, under the category ‘The Body Electric’. The prize drew over 4000 applicant entries, of which Le Petit Echo de la Mode No.5 made the TOP 30 final shortlisted works.
The role of the ‘body’ has played a recurring theme in artworks since Dead Man’s Patterns (2008) an artist’s book inspired by the bespoke suit patterns of a deceased customer, cut by the eminent Savile Row tailors Dege & Skinner. The tailors would ceremoniously shred the patterns of former clients, since there is no value in the parchment without the body. The photographic sequence depicting the making of the garment is charged and ghost-like within the context of the title Dead Man’s Patterns; where the patterns make the absent figure tangible’. Each section of the book suggests different physical states of the ‘man’ with a sense of formal preparation for burial. The physical man is never there; the book’s pages gesture towards intimacy even though they are merely paper.
Subsequently I responded to lingerie tailoring patterns sourced from a London designer (c.1970), by making the series Love Gardens by layering them with coloured paper to create abstract representations of female anatomy referencing the work of Georgia O’Keefe.
To complement this series I used Savile Row shirt collar tailoring patterns and newspaper clippings, with spray paint mounted on inkjet prints to create phallic collages. Suits are the predominant international uniform of men in positions of power. Does Sir dress left or right? This charming tailoring euphemism has a fascinating equivalent in radiology. The John Thomas sign refers to the orientation of a penis in an anteroposterior x-ray. I take the discarded Savile Row menswear tailoring patterns and make their masculinity shockingly explicit. Does the viewer see them as proud or ridiculous? Perhaps, like the x-ray, John Thomas exposes the vulnerability a suit conceals.
In 2013 I was commissioned by Crafts Council, England to exhibit five sculptures at the Saatchi Gallery for Collect. The works were intimate, fragile structures created from quarter-scale military patterns of uniforms from the British Raj (1850-1947). The works epitomized a romantic memory of falling in love with a fictional character – a handsome English officer from the TV mini-series The Far Pavilions (1984). Inspired by the construction of Anthony Caro’s work, the structures were created from the negative space around the patterns to narrate the absent body. The body and its story is no more but my memory and patterns live on.
In my most recent series Le Petit Echo de la Mode the female form is shattered into precise overlapping facets, flattened not as multiple views of a subject but as the object itselfmade from single pattern sheets. These compositions recall the Cubists, who strove to paint pictures that compressed the sensation of all faces of an object simultaneously into one image. Art historian Arnason in History of Modern Art (1988) explains that ‘the cubists like Picasso and Braque broke ancient system’s fixed, unitary, hierarchical focus into democratically multiple perspectives, they created a mixed or composite image, presented as if viewed from many different angles at once’. In this context it is significant to position patterns as relevant 2D flat representations of 3D bodies. Like the Cubists, tailors analyse bodies and produce drafted mathematical patterns that can be viewed as the entirety of the body. Tailoring patterns are artefacts in themselves: they present every facet of a garment, and inevitably the body along with it, on a single sheet of paper. These patterns seduce me, not to cut and detach, but to leave intact and explore the multiple aspects and angles of the body by filling in the planes. In the process this becomes a realization of the Cubist philosophy. The history of these radical original pattern abstractions from fashion magazines (1897–1983) and the history of pattern cutting (1580 onwards) predates the Cubist movement.
My work propose a new interpretation of tailoring patterns as interesting abstracted drawings of the human form which have an inherent aesthetic quality that can be used innovatively to develop a contemporary art practice. Freed from function they are drawings ahead of their time, anthropomorphic in origin and beautifully abstract in isolation.
Honoured to be invited by Saatchi Art to curate a collection on Collage for them. to view the collection please visit A Celebration of Collage. It comprises of 50 works highlighting the diversity of work from installation to 2D, to sculpture. I wanted to show that painters borrow techniques from collagists.